This is a guest post from John Pick. John is a veteran web developer and technology consultant. He specializes in bringing his client’s businesses “online.” By utilizing his skills as a developer he is able to take a modern online system or concept (such as WordPress, Google Analytics, CRMs, eCommerce) and tailor it to his clients needs.
Writing code can be difficult. It’s easy to become code blind or wind up in a never-ending game of code golf trying to solve problems.
Each time you write code, you either sharpen your skills or double down on bad habits. Throw in the myriad of no-code options that exist today, and it’s easy to let your coding skills slack.
However, coding is no longer as hair-pulling as it once was. Thanks to the multitude of helpful tools and websites available, you can upgrade your code writing for smoother, more productive sessions.
14 Tools and websites and hone your coding process
It takes years of practice to sharpen your coding skills, along with close attention and persistence. Learning how to remove dead code, spot problematic patterns, and format effectively involves a long process of trial and error. Failing to invest in your education and learn from your mistakes runs the risk of picking up bad coding habits.
But armed with a suite of intuitive coding tools and websites, you can refine your code-writing process for improved efficiency and accuracy. Next time you’re working on a coding project, try these websites and tools to optimize your process.
Locofy is a free coding site that turns Figma and Adobe XD designs into product-ready front-end code for mobile apps and web programs like React, React Native, HTML/CSS, Gatsby, and Next.JS.
Trusted by developers at startups, enterprises, agencies, non-profit organizations, and more, Locofy helps coders save time. With reviews like, “…saved 99% of my time,” and “Without it, I would have to do all the coding manually,” it’s a proven solution for automating the code-writing process.
It significantly reduces development effort by easily converting designs into ready-to-ship front-end code. You can implement pre-built components and set up custom properties for greater responsiveness. Meanwhile, the auto-tagging functionality quickly scans your design to make recommendations. Once done, you can view a live prototype of your code and share it with your team for input.
Be aware, Locofy is still in beta mode, so there are bound to be even greater updates over the next few months.
This live prototype from Locofy shows how you can convert Figma design files into code — without doing any coding. The end result is a responsive, user-friendly site that’s both functional and attractive.
You can check out this eCommerce site and other websites and apps built with Locofy in the Locofy Showcase library of live prototypes. Here, you can see the original Figma file, view the code, or try it out yourself for free.
From lifestyle travel to eCommerce fashion websites and health apps, Locofy is applicable to a wide array of industries.
VisuAlgo employs simple animations to help you visualize data structures and algorithms. This site is especially useful for helping developers understand complex concepts. Students learning how to code can jump on VisuAlgo to learn how different algorithms work.
As the animation plays, an explanation of what’s happening appears in the bottom-right corner, along with pseudocode that explains how the algorithm works. VisuAlgo’s simple, visual nature makes it perfect for concrete learners. It teaches a range of subjects, from simple algorithms like sorting and linked lists to rarer, more complex ones such as the Steiner tree. To solidify your understanding, you can insert your own input into any algorithm, rather than being confined to the samples provided.
The online quiz feature is a thoughtful bonus to help developers test how well they know each of the various algorithms.
VisuAlgo presents an expansive collection of algorithms. In the above example, you can see how the site explains sorting algorithms.
When you first click on the algorithm, you’re presented with an instructional information box that gives a brief overview of the algorithm and its purpose. As you move through the instructions, you’re guided through various aspects of the algorithm to expand your knowledge.
After that, you put your learning into practice by testing how the algorithm works and observing how it changes.
Every developer knows the pain of having to sift through hundreds of browser add-ons and extensions in search of a specific tool. To remedy this headache, ExtendsClass offers a library of tools you can use straight from your browser — no more drowning in a sea of extensions.
These small and intuitive tools are accessible from your browser, making it easier for you to access what you need without having to download any new software to your machine.
On the ExtendsClass site, you’ll find links to code testers, checkers, and database tools, to name but a few selections. Whatever you’re looking for, you’re bound to find a helpful tool on ExtendsClass.
With that said, the website is somewhat disorganized and would benefit from a search function or filtering option. Currently, the ExtendsClass site is a long list of tools categorized by function and interspersed with ads. But it’s a free tool, so these drawbacks are to be expected.
ExtendsClass hosts an assortment of tools designed to improve your code writing, including a Python code checker. You can copy and paste your current Python code into it to check for syntax errors.
If everything is clean, you receive a green “no syntax errors detected” notification. If any issues are caught though, they’ll be clearly listed underneath your code so you can easily see what mistakes to fix.
If you haven’t used Codeshare before, it might become your new coding best friend.
As the name implies, you can share your code with other developers in real time. Come together with other developers to troubleshoot your code using the Codeshare editor. The website even lets you set real-time coding tasks for developers you’re interviewing.
You can also teach students how to code by running live demos and educating users as you code. With long-established organizations like Stanford University and Cornell University using it to teach people how to program, you know it must be good.
Codeshare will save any uploaded code for 24 hours, giving you time to check your code before sharing it with others. As a free code-sharing tool, Codeshare is an ideal choice for developers working collaboratively or seeking input from their peers.
One of the hardest parts of writing code is the risk of becoming code-blind. You spend so long staring at the same block of text that your eyes glaze over and you fail to catch glaringly obvious errors. However, through PullRequest, you gain access to thousands of on-demand code reviewers to sharpen and refine your work.
The company’s network of vetted expert engineers and developers will help you clean up your code, spot any bugs, identify security vulnerabilities, and ready it for deployment. PullRequest’s reviewers will make a strong addition to your development team, whether you’re a group of five or five thousand.
They free your senior developers to work on other projects and continue building without disrupting their process to check other people’s code. Having access to an external team also offers fresh eyes to pour over your code, which helps you avoid shipping problematic code you’ve gone blind to.
However, PullRequest doesn’t come cheap. Prices start at $199 for one hour of code review, or you can opt for monthly support starting from $699 per month. Larger teams that need support can contact PullRequest to enquire about their Enterprise plan pricing options.
If you think this coding tool is only for small businesses and startups, think again: Car manufacturer Audi uses PullRequest for their Audi-only car rental service, Silvercar.
Silvercar by Audi employs PullRequest to review their web development processes and polish their in-progress software projects. Although Silvercar already had rigorous code review practices in place, they found adding PullRequest to their existing process allowed them to scale up their development and engineering teams. Since incorporating PullRequest, Silvercar has been able to write high-quality, high-performance code at speed.
Security and performance are top priorities for all developers, and Pingdom dedicates its focus to both elements: It positions itself as a cost-effective way to test your website’s uptime and performance while being suitable for both expert and novice developers.
You can run website speed tests to see how fast pages load and identify bottlenecks. The alert feature is a nice touch, informing you as soon as your site goes down or runs into issues. Personally, I like Pingdom’s color-coded chart for identifying different server response codes and request statuses.
While Pingdom doesn’t help you write code, I wanted to include it in the roundup because fixing code errors and content changes are just as important as writing new code. Plus, Pingdom’s performance updates help you determine what code jobs to prioritize next.
If you only plan to use Pingdom for its performance and page speed test, you may want to look into Google PageSpeed Insights or the Lighthouse report tool as a free alternative. Starting from £7.92 per month though, Pingdom is already a low-cost choice.
Refinery29 is a fashion-focused digital media site for women. With a key focus on helping people refine their personal style online, Refinery29 recognizes the value of providing their visitors with an intuitive site experience.
The brand uses Pingdom to monitor their site uptime, making sure visitors always have a seamless online experience. Refinery29 highlights the simplicity and reliability of Pingdom as a site and code monitoring tool.
Marker.io is a visual website feedback tool that collects live feedback and bug reports from website users. It lets visitors easily share input while they use your site. Marker.io is also a great option for working collaboratively on new site designs with a broader team or speeding up QA testing by collecting team feedback.
The “Report feedback” feature also enables users to annotate a screenshot of the web page so they can illustrate the issue. They can then add their comments and upload files before hitting the “Send feedback” button.
The annotated screenshots make it even easier for you to reproduce reported bugs and figure out exactly what went wrong and how to remedy the problem. Plus, Marker.io integrates with other development, CMS, and project management tools so you can fit it seamlessly into your existing workflow.
Marker.io is a powerful tool for minimizing user frustrations and fixing bugs as soon as they appear.
Wellnecity is a B2B organization helping U.S. employers cut the cost of providing health benefits without compromising on quality. They combine Marker.io with Trello to share visual feedback with their remote developers.
Working with remote teams requires careful project management and detailed organization. Wellnecity found Marker.io allows them to communicate feedback clearly to remote developers for seamless troubleshooting. Before Marker.io, the company would manually mark up website screenshots and send them for review. Thanks to Wellnecity’s adoption though, this process is automated so the team can easily annotate live landing pages to report bugs or highlight requested front-end changes. As such, Wellnecity has cut their review process in half, speeding up bug reports and enabling their remote team to work together efficiently.
Storybook is a developmental environment tool that serves as a testing ground for user interface (UI) components. Once you’ve built a component, you can import it to a “story” file in Storybook and test different use cases to see how it would look in various environments or scenarios. Essentially, you can build numerous user interfaces without needing to fire up the entire app or play around with data and APIs.
After creating a new “story” in Storybook, you can save the various use cases and revisit them during development, testing, and QA. The tool’s innovative testing features make it easier and faster to debug components and ensure they’re ready for deployment. You can even check those “story” components for accessibility issues, detect any code changes, or export them to other testing tools.
Storybook’s component library acts as a one-stop resource for UI: Rather than writing code from scratch, you can simply search for the exact component you need in the library. These components can be reused across different pages and apps, making it faster for you to create new content. What’s more, the component history features let you pinpoint when any code changes or bugs occur so you can reverse the effects by reverting to an older version.
Thousands of brands use Storybook to store their design components and ensure they have consistent, effective design systems in place, including AirBnB.
The vacation rental giant uses Storybook to power their datepicker components using React. You can explore AirBnB’s Storybook library to see their accessible and mobile-friendly datepicker components.
With Storybook’s public libraries, you can see what components other companies are using and download them as well. AirBnB’s datepicker components alone have received over 419,000 weekly downloads.
Source: See Prettier in action by using Prettier Playground
Prettier is arguably one of my favorite coding tools that I’ve recently used. It’s an opinionated code formatter, which means it parses and analyzes code and then reformats it in a better (or should I say, “prettier”) way.
Prettier’s smart algorithm ensures all of your code follows the same formatting and styling rules. However you input the code, the program will automatically reformat it to match the rest of your codebase. This is great for ensuring consistency in your writing.
But where Prettier really shines is through its collaboration support: Each developer has their own idea of how code should be formatted, but Prettier provides a single, unified formatting style for everyone to follow. This eliminates the need to discuss code styling in code reviews, saving you both time and energy when you write new code.
Describing itself as “like Chrome DevTools for your backend,” Sidekick is a live application debugger that lets you troubleshoot your apps as they run. This reduces the time spent monitoring and debugging your applications. You no longer need to reproduce bugs to remove them; instead, Sidekick’s Tracepoints help you collect real-time stacks so you can debug your app as soon as issues arise.
You can also add logs to your production apps without redeploying or restarting your applications. These logs then increase observability while decreasing monitoring costs. Whenever you debug your app with Sidekick, your logs will capture actionable data for you to review and implement as you see fit.
Sidekick is also great for onboarding new developers to your team by using real-time data to show how your apps work. The time and cost-saving benefits of this tool are undeniable for any developer.
One powerful way to leverage Sidekick is production debugging. Using Sidekick’s live application debugger tool, you can identify any errors in the live environment in real time. You’ll receive a detailed report on the app state when an error occurs, which will speed up the debugging process by helping you understand what request or code triggered the error.
Sublime Text a text editor made for coders. It makes it easy to check for syntax errors, format code with comments for readability, view multiple files side-by-side, and organize your subdirectories.
In addition, Sublime provides quality of life features such as an auto completing your code text based on context. You can insert or hide code snippets, and search across multiple files at once for places a specific function or variable is referenced.
A simpler alternative I’ve used is Notepad++.
Most developers are familiar with GitLab for good reason. GitLab helps teams at every stage of development, from planning to production.
It’s an open source DevOps software suite that lets you develop, secure, and operate software in a single application. Using GitLab to complete so many tasks shortens cycle time, reduces costs, strengthens security, and increases productivity. In short, this tool helps you work effectively as a team by giving you the means to accomplish all project tasks in a single tool.
At every stage, GitLab facilitates clear code reviews and feedback loops. It also lets you develop powerful branching strategies to ensure quality and consistency when deploying new version releases or bug fixes. Thanks to GitLab’s operational focus, you can develop strong processes and practices for writing effective code.
A free alternative to GitLab is GitHub, which also has a paid version.
HackerOne is a cybersecurity platform that connects businesses with penetration testers and cybersecurity experts to test their site vulnerabilities and security. The company uses GitLab to centralize their code and fine-tune security.
By integrating GitLab into their developers’ workflow, HackerOne can catch security flaws early while simultaneously improving their pipeline time, deployment speed, and developer efficiency.
Speaking about the GitLab adoption, HackerOne’s Head of Infrastructure, Mitch Trale, noted:
“An engineer can push code to GitLab CI, get that immediate feedback from one of many cascading audit steps and see if there’s a security vulnerability built in there, and even build their own new step that might test a very specific security issue.”
GitLab also enabled HackerOne to streamline their tech stack, centralizing multiple functions in one program. So, rather than using separate tools for code version control and continuous integration, they can manage everything using GitLab. This approach to code writing makes it easier for HackerOne’s developers to write high-quality code and automate many of their processes.
If you’re tired of switching between platforms and worrying about data breaches due to compromised login credentials, Teleport is the tool for you. It offers unified access to Linux and Windows servers, Kubernetes clusters, databases, and DevOps applications.
By consolidating these entry points and relying on their secure setup and authentication features, Teleport can significantly reduce your risk of cyberattacks. Plus, with Teleport Audit, you’ll have live visibility over infrastructure access and activity so you can see what’s happening as it occurs.
Being able to switch easily between servers and databases gives you more time to be productive and write code that matters. Teleport is a gamechanger for faster operations.
AI is taking the content writing and marketing world by storm. With such a rapidly growing business model, it’s important for AI writing companies like Jasper.ai to optimize their DevOps processes.
Jasper.ai uses AI to help companies accelerate content development, so they needed a robust solution that could manage the deployment of large volumes of data at one time. They turned to Teleport for help, and now their developers and engineers have instant access to the tools and resources they need.
Jasper.ai’s technical and non-technical teams can access the apps they need to perform their duties efficiently. Meanwhile, developers and other technical users capitalize on Teleport to give non-technical users access to content and speed up collaboration and approval processes without compromising site security.
Commenting on their use of Teleport, Guhan Venguswamy, Jasper.ai’s Head of Platform Engineering, explained, “Rather than having to jump through hoops to give some individuals temporary access, we can offer instant access to those that need it with Teleport, we can be more collaborative, and deliver product enhancements faster.”
Although it isn’t a tool that can whip your code into shape, Stack Overflow can connect you with people who have the knowledge to help.
Stack Overflow is a public platform where developers come together to learn, share, and build their coding knowledge and expertise. It’s a community-based website with a question-and-answer communication style.
By participating in the Stack Overflow community, you can improve the way you write code naturally while learning from industry peers and experts. Ask questions and find the best solutions for any coding challenges you face. Alternatively, take advantage of Stack Overflow to share your wisdom and help other people solve problems.
Bonus: Code optimization tips
Outside of adding code-writing tools to your tech stack, here are some core reminders for optimizing code:
- Don’t overcomplicate things – Start with the most basic version of your code and slowly build it out from there. Sometimes, the simplest code is the most effective. Use succinct coding languages and remember to keep it simple.
- Nurture your coding habits – Don’t fall into a cycle of writing sloppy code, failing to check it, and haphazardly deploying inconsistent and unreviewed code. Clean code relies on well-honed practices, so develop good habits when you write.
- Recycle code – You don’t have to start from scratch every time you write code. In fact, you likely reuse snippets repeatedly. If so, create templates and pull from that repository whenever you work on a new project.
- Write with a refreshed brain – Writing when you’re mentally tired is hard and can lead to unnecessary errors. If you’re feeling drained or distracted when writing code, take a step back and rest. Come back to your code with a fresh mind so you can write productively and avoid mistakes.
Wrapping up — Optimized code writing is a few clicks away
Develop a habit of producing clean code by tapping into tools that help you optimize your writing skills.
Whether it’s leaning on the coding community in Stack Overflow or employing Prettier to ensure consistency, there’s always room for improvement when writing code.
Take time to reflect on your current writing practices and identify ways to polish your coding. An optimized code-writing process will save you lots of time and energy that you can redirect toward other business aspects. You don’t have to worry about cleaning up or debugging code retrospectively when you’re confident it was written correctly the first time.